Accepting credit cards helps cash flow, provides a convenient way for clients to pay, and gets rid of the time spent processing checks and applying payments. To start accepting credit cards, your firm should take the following steps.
First, you need to decide on a credit card merchant. Be sure to keep in mind that accepting credit cards for law firms isn’t as easy as it is for most companies. Law firms, especially those who deal with trust accounts, have certain considerations to think about. Credit card merchants who aren’t familiar with these requirements could ultimately wind up causing you a trust account violation and possible sanctions.
While general credit card merchants may be familiar with law firm needs, there are legal-specific merchants who have created their product specifically around those requirements. LawPay, for example, is one of the most commonly used merchants, allowing lawyers to easily place a payment link directly on their site.
Here are a few items you should discuss with potential merchants:
- Can credit card fees be deducted from a primary operating account rather than the trust account at the end of the month?
- What size deposits can be processed? If a client makes a large deposit, will the bank put a hold on it?
- Will the full deposit be made into the trust account?
As part of your selection process, you should find out what the fees are. Some merchants have only a processing fee, while others have a processing fee in addition to an annual fee.
At the same time as you’re selecting a merchant, you’ll want to determine how your accounting software will know which invoices are paid or not. Is this something that will need to be done manually? Is there an integration you can use?
Make sure you also have a plan in place for how to handle charge-backs and voids.
You’ll then want to make sure the payment option is either available on your invoices or you’ve notified clients about the new process change. Some law firms opt to create a page on their site where clients go to make a payment. This makes it easy for clients who have recurring payments.
Make sure you have a process in place with whoever is handling the billing in your office, if it’s not yourself, to keep everyone on the same page.